Learning to Drive a Straight-Shift Car

Today I am going to tell you how my dad taught me to drive a straight-shift car.

As I have told you before, the Bottom Road was a one-lane gravel road, as were all the secondary roads, and was full of loose gravel and ditches.  When meeting another car on a gravel road, you would have to get as close to the edge of the road as possible without running into the ditch.  And you had to be careful of the loose gravel because if you hit it traveling too fast, you could lose control of your car and end up in a ditch or in somebody’s front yard.

My first car was a Corvair which I absolutely loved; but I always wanted a Mustang and my Uncle Chapel finally found one for me.  The only problem was the Mustang was straight-shift and I had absolutely no idea how to drive it.  So, Dad decided he would teach me how to drive the Mustang on our gravel road; and I’m here to tell you this little event was not pretty.  If you have ever driven a straight-shift car, you know that the first thing is taking off in first gear without killing the engine. That takes time to learn and lots of patience from the teacher.  So, in learning how to get it out of first gear without killing the engine, I would gun that sucker and that’s when I would throw loose gravel all over the place.  It was a no-win situation for me because my dad was not a patient man and fussed at me the whole time.  It took several tries before I conquered the straight-shift; but I finally learned how to drive that Mustang and I have my dad to thank for sticking with me during that scary time.

One winter day, we woke up up to snow.  I was attending business school in Paducah and they didn’t dismiss classes for a few snowflakes.  Before I left, I had to promise my mom that I would call her when I got to school; otherwise, she would have worried all day about me.  I left home driving very carefully and didn’t get off the Bottom Road before I came upon this big hill that I had to drive to the top of in order to get to Highway 68.  I had never driven in snow and was also driving my Mustang.  Anyway, I started up that hill and began to slide around a little bit.  That scared the crap out of me; and I since I had no idea how to stop skidding, I just gunned that puppy and didn’t take my foot off the gas pedal until I got to the top of that hill.  I also cleaned out a ditch while I was at it.  I went on to school like nothing had happened.  And, I didn’t even scratch the car.

I kept the Mustang for several years and finally gave it to my little sister.  She had to learn to drive that straight-shift monster too, but Dad wasn’t brave enough to take that on for a second time.  Cheryl’s best friend, Diane Dole (we called her “Dirty Diane”) taught her how to drive the Mustang when we lived in Eddyville, KY.

See ya next Wednesday.